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Uganda passes bill increasing paternity leave days

 A man nursing a baby [istockphoto]

The Ugandan parliament has passed a bill that proposes an increase in paternity leave from four to seven days to enable men to assist their spouses.

Proponents of the bill argued that men were often left out of caregiving conversations yet they also play a crucial role.

"It ought to be appreciated that if we wish to have a society where men play an increased supportive role to their spouses, it is important that more time be accorded to male employees to help their spouses," said Flavia Kabahenda, chairperson of parliament's gender committee.

The lawmakers added that they were borrowing a leaf from Kenya, which accords male employees 14 days.

"Jurisdictions in the East African Community such as Kenya have enhanced the time for paternity leave. Kenya's Employment Act 2007 accords male working employees two weeks' paternity leave," Kabahenda was quoted by New Vision.

In Kenya, fathers are granted a two-week paternity leave with full pay. Female employees, on the other hand, are entitled to a three-month maternity leave with full pay.

Additionally, they have the option to supplement this leave with their annual leave or sick leave if desired.

In Uganda, female employees are entitled to 60 working days of fully paid maternity leave. The compulsory leave is four weeks after childbirth or miscarriage. Male employees are currently entitled to four days of paternity leave in a year.

To initiate maternity leave, a mother is required to provide her employer with a notice period of at least seven days before her intended start date.

Similar to the requirement for sick leave, mothers must present a certificate from a qualified medical practitioner confirming their pregnancy to qualify for maternity leave.

During an employee's maternity leave, it is prohibited for the employer to terminate their employment. Furthermore, female employees have the right to return to their previous position after leave or a reasonably suitable job with equivalent conditions.

Any demotion of a female employee to a lower job rank while she is on maternity leave is considered discriminatory.

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